It’s no secret that China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region are expanding. Just last month, the country staged drills simulating strikes on Taiwan. In 2020 and 2021, tensions between China and India escalated into hand-to-hand combat, killing and wounding dozens on both sides.
Recognizing the pressing need to bolster their security, several nations in the region are taking proactive measures.
Japan, wary of North Korea as well, announced plans to increase its defense budget by 56 percent. Australia is expanding its naval forces to include nuclear-powered submarines. And just recently, the Philippines announced the location of four additional military bases to be used by US troops.
These nations share a steadfast partnership with the US and collaborate closely to engage in military drills and safeguard crucial shipping lanes. However, even closer military cooperation is needed to fully deter China during peacetime and be fully prepared in the face of a major conflict.
The Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly important to the world’s security. The US Indo-Pacific Strategy, released by the White House in February, outlines the importance of the region’s security to America.
Sixty percent of the world’s GDP and over half the global population are reason enough to warrant a strong combined presence. The unilateral expansion of Chinese territorial waters is not only illegal, but a blatant showing of Beijing being a bully, pushing around smaller and less powerful nations.
China’s plans for the South China Sea involve territorial disputes with Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. This ridiculous overreach by Beijing, drawn on a map as the 9 Dash Line, is backed up by the construction of artificial islands, literally sand dumped on slightly submerged islands on which China constructs military bases.
While this may prove useful for China in times of war, in peacetime, it drives the violated nations away from Beijing diplomatically in search of military protection elsewhere.